MAN at Solutrans 2021 between innovations and e-mobility. Our interview with Johannes Kramer
«Pushed by their customers, our clients are starting to ask for more sustainable options when it comes to distribution vehicles. We’re talking about 16, 19 or 26 ton trucks. One of the issues is that it’s not easy for producers to satisfy the demand also in terms of price gas, which is very huge nowadays, even in countries, like France, where the government gives subsidies», told us Johannes Kramer.
MAN Truck & Bus France participated in Solutrans 2021, exhibiting the latest additions in the family of ICE-powered trucks and vans, but also addressing part of the booth to the range of electric vehicles. Speaking of diesel-powered trucks, on the new generation of the TGX, the heavy-duty truck that was awarded with the Sustainable Truck of the year 2022 in the Tractor category, MAN introduced some new features such as the optional MAN OptiView system, which replaces the traditional rearview mirrors, as well as new driver assistance functions. Additional fuel savings of up to 3.7 percent and the expansion of the range of digital services are some more innovations that will become available in early 2022.
MAN at Solutrans 2021: the electric offer
Looking at the range of electric vehicles, a MAN eTGM distribution truck with range of almost 200 km, as well as a MAN eTGE chassis cab utility vehicle. «Investments in the electrification of the vehicle range is not a choice, but a must in the current scenario. And it’s important to do it now. Long-haul will come in a second step. We’re working on prototypes with a range extender based on fuel cells. The same is happening in the bus field, where articulated buses will probably have range extenders as well», told us Johannes Kramer, Sales Manager New Trucks at Man Truck & Bus France. «We’ve sold around 200 eTGE vans this year. We can see these are vehicles are very well accepted to avoid the bans in many European cities».
Mr Kramer, what’s the feedback coming from potential customers?
«Pushed by their customers, our clients are starting to ask for more sustainable options when it comes to distribution vehicles. We’re talking about 16, 19 or 26 ton trucks. One of the issues is that it’s not easy for producers to satisfy the demand also in terms of price gas, which is very huge nowadays, even in countries, like France, where the government gives subsidies. That’s why we try to work on lowering additional costs of the electric options we have in our range. As a matter of fact, these additional costs may be amortized in 2 to 3 years».
We try to work on lowering additional costs of the electric options we have in our range. As a matter of fact, these additional costs may be amortized in 2 to 3 yearsJohannes Kramer, Sales Manager New Trucks at Man Truck & Bus France
What’s going to happen in a 2-year time here in France in the distribution sector?
«We’ve been a sort of precursor, due to the diesel ban in Paris, which is an example on a European level along with London. This is something that’s positively affecting not only the truck field, but also the bus sector. So, the cities will be changing the way they organize transport within the territory and there will be high request for sustainable vehicles, either light trucks, vans or buses».
Component shortage and future prospects
How’s the matter of component shortage affecting the French market, as well as the orders already placed by customers here?
«It’s a global problem. The first issue is about delivering what’s been ordered. The market forecasts for France about 45-46,000 units in 2021 will probably be lower (43-44,000), a bit above last year’s share. The orders are there but the supply chain can’t match. We don’t know what our plants can deliver in the near future and it’s quite difficult to say what might happen in the next months, actually. It’s a complete mess for the whole chain.
The second issue deals with the delays for new orders, which are close to one year. In my opinion, that’s the same for all the manufacturers. In six months, delivery time has doubled from 6 months to one year. All the clients got some pressure from the market. So, in the last four months everybody got huge order intake. The clients are a bit loss and we are experiencing material prices increase. Customers are pushing orders in order to avoid also price increase. This generates a bit of a bubble and I think we have to be careful. It’s a bit of a tricky game to play right now for all the manufacturers.
Furthermore, everybody has additional costs for stopping the production or facing downtime. It’s an additional burden everybody has to cope with».
Do you think diesel is still the option for long-haul trucks?
«I think so. In the next 4-5 years, we won’t have electric trucks capable to run far enough and then we might have some sort of range extenders such as hydrogen».